The Note

Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune reports on the newly redesigned election materials, ballots, and voting instructions that will accompany voters to the polls today as Illinois' Chicago and Cook counties emerge as national leaders in improving ballot design. LINK

Rev. Al Sharpton and Cedric Brown:

Rev. Al Sharpton sauntered onto CNN's American Morning set to chat about his future in the party and on the air. "There are a lot of issues that have not been resolved," Sharpton said of the Democratic Party's platform. "We can all say that John Kerry will be a much better president than President Bush," Sharpton added, emphasizing his role in ensuring that Kerry deals with "the urban agenda" and creates a platform "that doesn't marginalize anyone, from Howard Dean's supporters to my supporters. We must stand for people who are suffering."

As for his future in the fourth estate, Sharpton chuckled and said "I'm not going into entertainment. Whatever I do will be serious. We cannot cede to the Rush Limbaugh's and Bill O'Reilly's of the world the airwaves."

But the highlight of the morning television (other than Jim Carrey hanging from a coat rack) has to be Cedric Brown, the "heckler," as Fox News chyroned him, who challenged Kerry at a rally last week about his claim that leaders have told him they want President Bush to lose. "If the Senator talks to a foreign leader," Brown said painfully slowly, "in an attempt to undermine the president of the United States and the administration in order to gain their endorsement for political office," he continued, "I say that's a betrayal to this country."

As for his interaction with Kerry, Brown said he didn't have a problem with Kerry's asking him his party affiliation but did say "I think it's unfortunate that he chose to try to attack me … Basically Kerry told me it was none of my business whether I met with foreign leaders."

Brown tried (slowly) to read an open letter he had written to the U.S. Senate. "I'm calling on the United Congress today to investigate Senator Kerry's meetings with foreign leaders. They should ask questions that determine the nature and timing of our meetings. If Senator Kerry was undermining the POTUS and the administration … then I would say he betrayed our country." As he opened his letter, though, Fox apparently thought better and brought the hook out. "We're coming up on a hard break with the satellite, Mr. Brown," one said quickly. Cut to studio. Pause. "We're going to take some calls now."

ABC News' Sharpton campaign reporter Beth Loyd files this dispatch:

Al Sharpton rarely does anything in a conventional way. His endorsement of John Kerry is no exception. In a seemingly contradictory move, Sharpton endorsed Kerry but will continue his campaign, neither suspending nor withdrawing and he maintains he will accumulate more delegates. However, Sharpton is no longer campaigning for himself, but for his platform, recently termed the "Urban Agenda."

While Kerry's campaign released the news of Sharpton's "endorsement," the Sharpton campaign's written statement avoided using the "e" word completely. Campaign manager Charles Halloran said, "While Senator Kerry's release was accurate, the Reverend simply chose another verb." Apparently, "concede" is the Sharpton campaign's verb of choice.

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